2020 was a distressing year with over 4 million jobs lost throughout the country. According to the joint report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), young people’s employment prospects in Asia and the Pacific are severely challenged due to the pandemic. The report also revealed that youth between 15-24 years would be hit harder than adults over 25 years in the immediate crisis and risk-bearing higher longer-term economic and social costs. Alarming fact, isn’t it? How are we going to deal with this?
I have always believed that businesses cannot be successful when society around them fails. During such crisis, corporates have the moral responsibility to come together and give back to society to grow together along with the communities we function in. CSR initiatives, in this context, are crucial in driving sustainable development. There are several areas that need attention, including education, health, sanitation, clean environment, rural development, etc.
At QuEST, we strongly believe that education is the foundation for sustainable growth and development, especially in these unprecedented times, educating and developing the country’s youth should be our topmost priority. As an organization, our focus is on preparing young children for careers and life in a technology-driven, entrepreneurial, and disruptive world.
Apart from being passionate about engineering, I am equally inclined about providing quality education to underprivileged children and taking care of their health, hygiene, and well-being. At QuEST, we have taken this up with utmost seriousness and have been helping schools with the basic infrastructure, supporting higher education of kids studying these, and providing enhanced education using technology.
With humble beginnings, I grew up in a tier-two city in Karnataka called Hubli. I was fortunate that my parents registered me in a high school called Junior Technical School, where right from 8th grade, children are taught the basics of engineering. Once you go through such an experience, one can take you out of Engineering, but no one can take the Engineer out of you.
After my stint as an engineer in the US, I returned to India and felt the urge to make the schools and education far better for those who could not afford it. Over the last ten years, under QuEST CSR (#SmileEngineering), we have done quite a bit on this front with the support of our employees who volunteer for the cause. Through this initiative, we aim to bring about a change for the betterment of the communities where we live by investing in children.
Today, education is even more critical when the negative impact of the pandemic is here to stay. More so, since engineers create everything around us. India has the opportunity to provide a million more engineers by 2025 to cater to the demands of the fast-evolving world. As we take the Indian Engineering R&D community on to the next phase of growth, where much engineering innovation and product development prowess is expected, schools have a huge role to play as practical experience and skills need to be imparted along with engineering theory to school-going children.
We have designed our CSR Model to embrace marginalized schools but with considerable potential for development. With a focus on developing the school and children with a sustainable model, long-term goal setting, and continuous improvement, we support them for the whole academic year with earmarked programs. Over the years, we have embraced and supported several schools in Bengaluru, Belgavi, Bhubaneswar, Hyderabad, Pune, and Trivandrum through scholarships and infrastructure development. In India, since 2013, we have been able to support 30+ schools across the seven cities we operate in, impacting more than 3,500 children.
Considering the long-term benefits of investing in people and their lives through our efforts, we realize that CSR is more than just a government-mandated requirement. It is more than just profit. It is an investment for the bright future of both the organization and society. All this is achieved often through our efforts or in conjunction with NGOs and other organizations that share the same drive and mission. Over the years, we have associated with like-minded partners such as Engineers without Borders, NASSCOM Foundation, Samrudhi Trust, Hope Foundation, Bengaluru City Police, and Embassy Group to create a positive change in the society around us. Globally, through employee-driven and self-sponsored exercises, our associates have been supporting various causes that they feel connected to. This includes community kitchens for old age, health awareness sessions, STEM education, etc.
In the current scenario, multiple organizations are becoming socially aware and responsible, even redefining their values to look beyond profit while also taking cues from causes cited in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Creating aspiration in the young, impressionable minds of under-informed children is relatively easy. One of the essential pillars for growth is education, and we will continue to work towards creating a Million Engineers and a Billion Smiles.
– Dr. Ajay Prabhu, President – Technology Services, QuEST Global